Fashion advice for summer wedding guests

Chicago TribuneMay 21, 2014 

This floral fit-and-flare party dress from Adrianna Papell, $220, is a great choice for a guest to wear to a formal wedding.


Dear Answer Angel Ellen: With wedding season coming up, I’ve been wondering if there are certain rules for what female guests should wear. Assuming it is a traditional formal wedding, are there certain fabrics that are more acceptable than others? Are there certain rules about solids versus prints and about dress lengths? What about hose versus bare legs for a summer wedding? Also, do you have any ideas about what sort of jacket or wrap looks best over a summer dress (when the event is indoors and may be overly air-conditioned)? – Sweating it out in CA

Dear Sweating: The big rule on wedding wear is don’t distract from the bride and groom. So never wear anything that will have people gawking at you instead of the happy couple. That would include a dress so short or low cut that it leaves little to the imagination.

Still confused? Dan Post, an author and spokesman for the Emily Post Institute – and Emily’s great-great-grandson – says it’s perfectly acceptable to call and ask what’s appropriate. In fact, “If there is any question, calling is recommended,” he says.

As for legs, clearly hosiery is a more formal look than bare legs, but either is acceptable in most circumstances. After all, style icons like Michelle Obama and Vogue’s Anna Wintour often go bare-legged.

As for solids versus prints, don’t worry about it. Either is fine. And the old rules about not wearing black to a wedding have gone the way of the typewriter.

However, wearing all white is still iffy. (The rule about not distracting from the star of this show might apply here!) Obviously a hot day calls for a lighter-weight outfit, especially if it’s an outdoor wedding. On the flip side, we’ve all been half-frozen by too much air conditioning, which is why I always carry a pashmina. Other options are a cardigan or a shrug (like a sweater but shorter). One more thing: If there’s dancing, you will be a lot happier if you bring along a pair of comfortable shoes.

Supportive sandals

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My go-to summer shoe is the flip-flop, and the cheaper the better. But lately I’ve been having heel pain, and my doctor told me I needed arch support. Are there any flips out there that will work for me? – Sandal Lover

Dear Sandal Lover: Yes! And here’s a bonus: They’re not all ugly. The American Podiatric Medical Association ( has a Seal of Acceptance for shoes, and most of the flip-flop styles they list are from three manufacturers: FitFlop (, Chaco ( and Vionic with Orthaheel technology ( Prices start in the $60 range. My sister swears by her Vionics.

Blouse for lace skirt

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I was wondering what kind of blouse would go with the black lace skirt I recently purchased. I am 62 years old, so I don’t think a sleeveless shirt would be an option for me. – Anne

Dear Anne: Lace is totally on trend and not just for evening or dressy occasions. Wear that skirt to work, as casually as you’d wear a skirt that isn’t lace. Since lace has a “sweet” vibe, pair it with something a little tougher on top. An Oxford shirt with long sleeves rolled up would work. Or a simple crisp white men’s-style shirt. In fact, pick up a shirt in the boys or men’s section of a thrift store for $2 or $3, and you’re set!

Get that glow

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Please help me find an illuminating product that will give me a “glowing” look. I do not wear foundation. BB and CC lotions make me look made-up, which I do not prefer. Is there a product that will not cost an arm and a leg and do the trick or is this an impossible quest? – Patricia

Dear Patricia: I’ve tested a lot of inexpensive drugstore brands, and I’ve found several that don’t look made-up but do give you a glow. Try Maybelline’s Dream Fresh BB (SPF 30) for under $10 at drugstores. Or for a little more coverage, Olay’s Total Effects CC (SPF 15) for under $25, also at drugstores.

T-Shirt solutions

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I love the look of a fitted white T-shirt. I have two issues: I don’t know what bra to wear that will hide my “headlights.” I find that all the white T-shirts I like are see-through. I love the fit of Gap Body T-shirts, but can only wear the white ones with a full cami underneath. – Amy

Dear Amy: Don’t you just hate it when you have to buy a second garment to make the first garment look right? There are a couple of solutions to your problem. One is a cami with built-in bra cups. I buy mine online for $19.90 at Uniqlo ( Or take a look at the wide array of nipple covers on Also, there are a number of wire-free bras on the market designed to eliminate the “headlights” problem. Type “T-shirt bra” into your search engine and you’ll find options.

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